Radio Consumption Is Second Only To TV, Above Internet: What The 2013 Nielsen Report Means For Icecast And Shoutcast Hosting
We hear the refrain often: ours is an age that’s dominated by technological advancement and the “creative destruction” of dinosaur industries. No sector of the economy has seen this phenomenon play out more vividly than in media and entertainment. DVDs, appointment viewing, and audio CDs have all been eviscerated by new technologies that offer more choice, convenience, and control to the consumer.
Anyone who’s ever been involved with Icecast or Shoutcast hosting is well aware that the internet has been redefining what radio is and how it works. They’re also aware of the oft-repeated predictions that, because of technological advances, AM/FM Radio is on the endangered species list, and bound to fade into obscurity. After all, the internet – like television before it – is gobbling up more and more of what once was radio’s market share.
BUT RADIO HOLDS STRONG
There’s only one problem with this line of thinking: it’s totally false. According to the latest annual Nielsen report on media consumption, radio is still the second most popular content medium in the country. Indeed, “the average American radio listener tunes in to radio over two hours per day.” Radio is far from becoming a niche market: a whopping 90 percent of Americans still tune in every week. Surprising as it may seem, Americans on average spend far more time listening to the radio than they do surfing the internet.
This revelation cuts against the prevailing consensus among advertisers and marketers, who have been scrambling to penetrate online and mobile media platforms for the past few years. It turns out AM/FM radio still plays a very useful role in marketing (especially for locally-based businesses) and is viewed as a pretty solid medium by its listeners. More than anything, AM/FM listeners continue to tune in because they find radio to be an enjoyable medium for news, sports, opinion, and music. They also find the local nature of AM/FM radio to be relevant and useful to their lives.
THE LIMITATIONS OF AM/FM
Of course, the doubters of radio have one valid point: the AM and FM formats are inherently limiting in their scope. The technology for traditional radio hasn’t evolved all that much since the 1930s, and its distribution model has remained fairly static since the ‘80s. AM and FM frequencies can only host so many stations at one time, and the lineup is dependent upon your location. The major strength of AM/FM is its ubiquity and convenience – even today, nearly every new car on the market comes equipped with an AM/FM antenna – but there’s not much innovative potential left in AM/FM itself. That’s where an unlikely alliance with the internet comes in.
THE CHALLENGES OF DRAWING RADIO LISTENERS ONLINE
There is a massive amount of untapped potential in the realm of internet radio. Unlike AM/FM, internet radio offers a vast and ever-expanding selection of stations. Internet radio also features content that is both national and local, web-based and AM/FM, and run by businesses and dedicated volunteers alike.
Now, it’s not an easy task to coax this massive market of listeners to switch from AM/FM to internet radio, but it can be done. The truth is that internet radio combines the best qualities of the internet – access to large swaths of content for free, universal connectivity – with the established benefits of AM/FM radio. In fact, it’s easier than it’s ever been, thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones. There are a number of great apps for iPhone and Android that allow you to browse through tens of thousands of internet radio stations, as well as AM/FM ones from around the country. Best of all, most of these apps (such as TuneIn) support Shoutcast and Icecast hosting.
This latest Nielsen report should excite anyone who’s passionate about the future of internet radio. It confirms that the market demand is already there, hungry for more choice and more diverse content. All internet radio has to do is make itself a visible alternative to the status quo.